Hum Hindustani hain, bolenge nahin, seedhe todenge,’ says our action hero to the accompaniment of some veer-ras poetry in rap with lines that go ‘marghat mein bachenge chithhre’ and invoke the Pandavas and Kauravas and all our mythological and religious icons.
In another sequence, the heroine tells a recalcitrant squad member, ‘Agar tu abhi nahin chalti na, toh kisi aur ki kutti ka toh pata nahin, tujhe apni kutti zaroor bana doongi.’ Or just before enticing the hero to join the squad with an item number: ‘Aisa surprise doongi ke shock se chalk ho jaoge.’ (Go figure!)
Or a conversation around a safe house: ‘Yeh hamara safe house hain – it’s safe’.
Or consider this exchange between the hero and the villain:
Villain: ‘Main jahan hoon wahan ek makkhi bhi bina clearance ke ghus nahin sakti. Aur tera file toh yahan bandh ho chuka hain. Tu toh ab bhoot hain.’
Hero: ‘Haan main bhoot hoon – aur bhoot ko clearance ki zaroorat nahin.’
Nuggets like these, strewn about all over, make me want to paraphrase the Rodgers and Hammerstein composition ‘How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria’: How do you review a film like Squad? There are bad films that leave you at a loss for words, scratching your head at how to go about it. Then there’s Squad — a whole different ballgame altogether. I wish I were a fly on the wall when this sorry mishmash of a concoction was put together — just to see how a project like this was pitched and approved, what went into the creative and business discussions around this.
Bhim (Rinzing Denzongpa) is a part of an elite Indian squad sent somewhere in Eastern Europe to rescue a missing six-year-old orphan girl. Named NERO (National Emergency Response Operatives), the squad is the brainchild of Nandini Rajput (Pooja Batra). It seems the girl has something that makes her a prime target for nations all over.
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There’s something about her having some rare blood group (RHNL — my Internet searches yielded nothing on this). But there’s also something about her grandfather having created cyborgs (who, in the words of a character in the film, had turned ‘super daanavs’ instead of superhumans). But to cut to the chase: I am still clueless about what exactly makes the girl so sought after.
Now, the problems with the squad are manifold. Bhim is traumatised with guilt at having failed to save a little girl from being blown up during an operation at PoK three years ago and is unwilling to go through a similar experience again (mujhe bachchon se darr lagta hai, he says). There’s Addy (Tanisha Dhillon), who is some sort of MMA expert with an attitudinal problem. There’s someone called Romeo who talks to his weapon, addressing it as ‘jaan’ and beseeching it, ‘Mujhse khafa na hona.’ There’s a mole too. It is a most dysfunctional squad, with everyone at cross-purposes — if at all there’s a purpose to this madness.
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But Nandini Rajput’s exhortation — iss baar ladaai desh ke liye nahin, desh ki beti ke liye hain — has them all willing to place their lives — and the viewer’s intelligence (there’s mention of a state called Argovinia, the smallest state in Eastern Europe, where the climax is set; again my Internet searches yielded zilch) — on the line, while offering Bhim a shot at redemption.
This is inept filmmaking at its worst, with no sense of anything cinematic. The kind that makes films like Sanak and Bhuj appear classics. Since I started with nuggets of dialogue, I can only end with one that a character on the mission utters: ‘Magar hum yeh kar kya rahein hai.’ Perfectly sums up the film.
Cast: Rinzing Denzongpa, Malvika Raaj, Pooja Batra, Amit Gaur, Tanisha Dhillon
Director: Nilesh Sahay
Rating: One star
(Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri is an award-winning publisher, editor and a film buff)
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